2016 Bad Book Year in Review

We’ve never really taken the time to look back at the year and fondly remember all the bad books we’ve slogged through. Not this year! No, this year we’ll look back and collectively pat ourselves on the back (you readers included) for making it through many a bad book.

House of Night Untamed:

Ariel: All the House of Nights blur together for me. Based on our very helpful post titles, apparently this was the one where Stark died. Wasn’t that so sad? We’d known him for a chapter and then he was torn away from us. Aphrodite got a cat. Zoey made up with her friends. What a ride!

Matthew: All I remember is that this is the fourth one and this is where a brand new actually-the-real-villain shows up. I can’t for the life of me remember anything the kids were doing. Can we assume Erik and Heath were mad at Zoey but still totally wanted her?

Oh wait! This is the one where Aphrodite got a cat! And I think she started dating Darius? Why do I remember the cat thing more vividly than Aphrodite getting a new romantic interest?

Ariel: I think you can be excused for forgetting that because I thought that happened in an earlier book! I seriously can’t keep straight it all straight since 99% of it is just filler, and 90% of the filler is just characters shouting at each other.

Left Behind:

Matthew: We read some Christian sci fi about the beginning of the rapture! One main character’s wife is raptured and he isn’t and he turns to god. Makes sense! The rest of the book is about international organizations that secretly rule the world order, which makes less sense. And then the antichrist mind-controls them into not existing and takes over the world himself, so it’s super cool that we had to read all of that.

Ariel: I hadn’t realized Left Behind was at the start of 2016. That seems outrageous to me! It feels like it was both yesterday and thirty years ago that we read that garbage.

That’s why year reflections are important I guess, so you can keep track of how long ago Left Behind was in your life.

Matthew: It’s almost like it was… left behind.

Beautiful Redemption:

Ariel: Beautiful Redemption fleshed out the Walking Disaster epilogue where Travis wielded dual glocks. Jamie McGuire realized in addition to answering the question, “But like how did this happen? Who was responsible for this nightmare?” she could also give us another crappy love story.

Matthew:  This was the FBI agents one instead of yet another kids in a college town story! Somehow that did impressively little to change the story (MADDOX LOVES FOREVER, sassy BFF has a complicated love interest but she figures it out, everyone else is weirdly invested in main character’s love life – FBI AGENTS WITHOUT NETFLIX)

Most notably, weirdly, I’d argue this was unquestionably McGuire’s best one? It’s the first BBGT book I didn’t slap a one-star rating on on Goodreads, at least. (I gave it two, but STILL.)

Ariel: So true! I enjoyed this instalment way more than Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster/Beautiful Oblivion. I’m not sure if this was despite or because of how little sense the actual FBI plot-line made. The Yakuza were involved and Liis was a translator so undercover her own teammates couldn’t know why she was there.

Matthew: It gives me such high hopes for the next two increasingly metal-as-fuck-sounding books in the series, Beautiful Sacrifice and Beautiful Burn.

Sweet Valley Confidential:

Matthew: I think the surprise of the year might have been that time we thought we were returning to the wacky funtimes of Sweet Valley High, and then Sweet Valley Confidential turned out to be one of the worst books we’ve ever read in our lives.

Ariel: Sweet Valley Confidential ruined EVERYTHING. God, it was just the worst.

Matthew: I think it rivals Fifty Shades for doing everything wrong a book could possibly do wrong. Nonsensical story. Undeveloped and inconsistent characters. And I still have no idea how many fucking tenses that book was written in.

Worse, people were looking FORWARD to that thing! It basically said, “Your favorite wacky twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, are BACK! Except their characters have changed so much they’re totally different people now. Also here’s some really bad sex scenes.”

Ariel:  “And Winston has DIED”

“But first he turned into a douche and we all hated him anyway.”

Matthew: “The brother is secretly gay but don’t worry, Jessica is gonna out him to everybody.”

So outrageously awful.

Ariel: I think what really got me was that somehow the ending was still so happy? Oh, Elizabeth was always meant to be with Bruce and Jessica with Todd…for some reason! Also, here’s a recap about every side character ever, the end.

One With You:

Ariel: This year we also read One With You THE FINAL CROSSFIRE INSTALMENT

This was the one where Eva’s mother was hiding a secret identity but then was shot before she could explain herself to anyone. But luckily she left some diaries and returned as a dream ghost to talk to Eva.

Matthew:  And to think I spent all this time complaining about reading Crossfire, when little did I know the ending would go totally off the rails! Multiple dream sequences with dead relatives explaining brand new information about tangentially related subplots! A brand new villain was introduced at the eleventh hour, AFTER HE WAS ALREADY KILLED OFF, and NONE of the other series’ recurring antagonists did anything in the conclusion!

Also I guess Eva and Gideon did some stuff? I totally forget what actually happened to them in this book, which is a bit of a problem for the finale of a five-book romance series.

Ariel:  I think all they did was plan their wedding so hard Eva quit her job to plan it some more.

Even though they were already married.

Matthew:  That’s actually an impressively concise summary.

Good job, Ariel!


Matthew: We also did something totally new and read Ernest Cline’s Armada. Although technically the title as it displays on Amazon is “Armada: A novel by the author of Ready Player One”, which just says so, so much.

Ready Player One was a sci-fi novel about a future where everyone lives in virtual reality all the time and the white male teenager who can save them all, but it’s actually just a shitty vehicle for 80s pop culture references. Tons of people loved it. Then Ernest Cline wrote Armada, which was a sci-fi novel about a fake alien invasion and the white male teenager who can save them all, but it’s actually just a shitty vehicle for 80s pop culture references. People kinda figured out what was up by this point. I don’t think many people like it.

Ariel: The funniest thing about this is that earlier today I unsarcastically told someone on Twitter that Matthew loved Ready Player One but not Armada. I AM A FOOL.

Matthew: Lol I’m still totally mad about that

Ariel:  Years from now someone will screenshot that tweet, because the internet never forgets, and you’ll be shamed for all eternity.

Armada was so dull, but I’m also really happy we wrote about it because we had a great time taking the piss out of how obvious it was that Zack’s father wasn’t dead like we all thought, but we also had a feeling he would die A HERO five minutes after Zack met him.

Also he had time to get Zack’s mom pregnant again before he actually died. What a gent.

Matthew:  We also spent basically the entire time talking about how obvious it was that the whole thing was leading up to a real dumb plot twist. And basically zero time talking about the cool spaceship fights and funny funny jokes, because, uhhhhhh, they were bad.

Ariel:  Oh that twist. Where every five minutes Zack would realize something was amiss but then lash out at anyone else who mentioned things were amiss.

Matthew:  I know this is always tough competition, but Armada might have had the most irritating cast of characters we read this year. But I think we’re going to reserve that debate for later this week…

Calendar Girl (January, February, March):

Matthew: We also started reading the Calendar Girl series, the basic premise of which I am actually having more trouble explaining to people than anything we’ve ever read for this blog.

A young woman’s dad ends up beaten up and in a coma when he can’t pay his gambling debts to a loan shark. So, naturally, the series is an erotic romance about his daughter.

Who has to work as a call girl to pay his debt. For some reason.

Ariel:  BUT ALSO the guy who is responsible for this beating is Mia’s horrible ex-boyfriend. The thrills continue!

Matthew:  Except he didn’t even show up until book 3. Yes, the stakes feel super super high.

Book 1 she met a guy who’s thus far the only contender for a serious romantic prospect. Book 2 she banged a self-obsessed dude but they were chill and not dramatic about it. Book 3 finally played with the formula a bit and she was a closeted gay celebrity’s beard.

Totally not joking: desperately hoping the rest of the series is more book 3s than book 2s or this is gonna get so boring.

Hunted (House of Night):

Matthew: Speaking of boring, can we even pretend there’s anything to summarize in the fifth House of Night book?

Ariel: “They are in the tunnels. Zoey can’t decide if she wants to be with Heath or Erik. Kramisha writes prophetic haikus about Kalona. Aphrodite drinks.”

Matthew:  Most notably, we are halfway through the book and JACK SHIT has happened concerning the major plot twist from the end of the previous book.

It’s like if after the Voldemort’s surprise return at the end of the fourth Harry Potter book, if the first HALF of the fifth Harry Potter book was just at the Dursely’s house. That’s the level of plot-not-moving in Hunted.

Hahaha can you imagine if that was the first draft of Order of the Phoenix. I mean that book did have some long stretches of boring in it, but not like this.

Goosebumps: One Day at HorrorLand:

one day at horrorland book cover

Ariel: Also, we can’t forget that we read Goosebumps: One Day at HorrorLand, which was brilliant. The HorrorLand Horrors were the most perplexing antagonists of all time. They never DID anything! And the signs were always quite helpful when you really got down to it.

Matthew:  I did forget! Even though the annual Goosebumps read for Halloween is our oldest tradition! Whoops.

It’s definitely part of the joke that Goosebumps were so terrifying when you were a kid and they’re hilariously not-scary now, but did HorrorLand seem especially not scary to you? I feel like I’ve been on actual real-world theme park rides that were scarier than the junk in this book. I mean, Doom Slide? DOOM SLIDE?

Hahaha you’re right! And the fakeouts got increasingly irritating and ridiculous. Although, I feel like it was slightly more scary than last year’s Chicken Chicken. Just the concept of being trapped anywhere is scarier than, ‘Omg we bumped into a witch, were rude, and she turned me into a chicken!’

Matthew:  I dunno, the turning-into-a-chicken one is ridiculous, but still not really something I’d be fine about happening to me? I’d much rather get stuck riding largely boring amusement park rides for a while than the existential horror of turning into a chicken.

Ariel:  For me it’s about the solution. With HorrorLand, if done correctly, no one knows where these people are and no one is coming to save them. With Chicken Chicken they always knew that they just had to basically apologize to the witch and she’d be like FINE.

You know what, though? This is a really good bonus post idea. Discussing and ranking Goosebumps stories based on their actual scare potential.

Matthew: Hahahaha I completely agree.

Whew, 2016 was a busy year! What bad books did you guys read in addition to these? And what books are you hoping we’ll do in 2017?

If you like what we do here, did you know you can get some extra rewards for supporting us? Bad Books, Good Times is on Patreon, where monthly donors have access to extra posts, free eBooks, and more. In 2017, we’re starting a Used Book Club, where we’ll be sharing books we actually like! Patrons donating $8 or more per month receive four books a year. We’re kicking things off in January, and if you join now, there’s time to weigh in on the first book!

Please consider taking a look! We hope you like it. We also hope you guys have a very happy new year, see ya in 2017!



  1. justaddgigi Reply

    Honestly, I envy your posting schedule. Jesus, you got like nine books done this year? I just finished sporking 1 book out of the mortal instruments series and it freaking took me six months. *bows down to the masters* I can’t wait to see what you guys come with next year!

  2. Cara Reply

    Aphrodite got a cat?? I don’t remember this at all. I mean, it sounds familiar now I’m thinking about it… but I had completely forgotten. It hasn’t been mentioned much in Hunted! Where is the cat while they’re all hanging out in the tunnels? For that matter, where is Nala? How long have they even been in the tunnels? It seems like forever.
    Left Behind feels like a fever dream. One With You also kinda feels like a fever dream.
    Calendar Girl has been fun so far. It’s goofier than I expected, kinda hokey — which is a nice change from books like the Crossfires or Disasters that try so hard to be serious and gritty (not to mention the romanticized abuse and assault).
    I’ve actually been here for all of these! I found this blog mid-2015, so this is my first full calendar year of reading your recaps. I’m very happy this blog exists, it’s one of those things I look forward to at the end of my day. And obviously – obviously – I’m hoping you guys read Maze Runner next year. I have a copy on my shelf, waiting.
    Happy holidays!

  3. khelekmir Reply

    Hah oh boy I forgot about Armada. That book looked so awful.

    Is it just me, or do those rings on the cover of One With You look really cheap? I’m sure Gideon could afford better.

    As much as it pains me to admit, I’m glad how sort of chill everyone is in Calendar Girl? Like no one is getting hecka jealous over Mia. The man in a relationship (and to a slightly lesser extent, the woman) getting ridiculously jealous if someone even dares look at their s/o. It’s not even just bad romance books that do this too! Other than that, Calendar Girl is a disaster, but at least its an entertaining one.

  4. Madeline Reply

    I completely forgot about Armada and Left Behind! Honestly that feels like forever ago.

    I hope you guys go back to OG Sweet Valley Mess, that was the good crazy. Great job slogging through all these books guys! Honestly don’t know how you do it. Happy Holidays!


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